There are 21% of women in senior management around the world. When I saw this statistic it did not surprise me, especially in the business world. Men still dominate in this field. There are usually only a handful of women in leadership roles. That is why I was thankful to have the opportunity to attend the annual Crocker Program for Emerging Business Leaders at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Cindy Crocker, 1980 Marketing Alumna, served as Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Equity Group Investments, one of the nation’s leading real estate companies.
She uses her knowledge and success in the business world to inspire NIU College of Business students. The Crocker Program for Emerging Business Leaders gave 50 NIU business students the opportunity to network with NIU College of Business alumni business leaders and the extremely successful Debra Cafaro. The women shared their insights on networking, leadership, their careers, and balancing between work and their personal lives.
When I first got to the event I felt a little out of place and intimidated. I had never been to a networking event or a hotel that nice before. I found myself diving into the appetizers and felt awkward when I had to introduce myself with no free hands. I didn’t know if I should start introducing myself right away or let everyone eat for a while. Once everyone sat down and each business leader introduced herself, everything seemed more relaxed. The keynote speaker was Debra Cafaro who is the CEO of Ventas, Inc., an S&P company with an enterprise value of $27 billion. Debra Cafaro was selected as one of the Top 50 Women in World Business by the Financial Times. She is happily married with two kids. A major concern many women have and society expects is balancing between work and family. Being able to see several successful business leaders who have juggled a family was very inspiring. They made me realize that you won’t always have a balance between a career and family but you can have both as long as you put enough time and passion into each. It was also informative to hear some networking tips like writing down names right after you meet someone and keeping up to date with the sports highlights.
It is true when people say it is all about who you know. This event was helpful in the way that it showed us what a real networking event is like. Being able to make a lasting impression on someone involves confidence, assertiveness, and putting yourself out there. This event gave all of us the opportunity to practice these things in a safe and comforting environment. Many of these women were in our shoes and graduated with a degree from NIU. Seeing the possibilities of where our lives could be in 10, 20, or 30 years from now was truly motivational. I am so fortunate to have these types of opportunities through the College of Business and especially events tailored to women in business professions.